Do you ever make plans only to see them blown to smithereens before your very eyes? Of course you have; everyone has unless you’re Jesus, which you’re not because you can’t walk on water, raise the dead and aren’t preparing for you own crucifixion. Best laid plans have a tendency to go up in smoke faster than a book of matches in the hands of a curious five-year-old boy.
Case in point: For a long time, Karen and I have wanted to put our house, which has been our home for 39 years, up for sale. Oh, we tried selling our home twice before, but it garnered as much interest as a leper selling hour-long massages for $5.00. You see, we live in a flood plain. The Stillaguamish River slithers through our neighborhood like a thirsty snake. When el Nino decides to visit the Pacific Ocean, his jet stream carries a warm, atmospheric river of rain from Hawaii toward Washington. The Stillaguamish gorges herself on all the melting snow until her sides burst open and flood the land with the contents of her swollen belly.
So over the years whenever we tried to sell our home, potential buyers would look at the snake coiled around three sides of our neighborhood and say, “Thanks but no thanks.”
Twice, plans to sell our home were dampened by the specter of a snake with a leaky belly. The list of reasons Karen and I wanted to move grew longer with each passing winter. At first, Karen and I were mostly concerned about what would happen if the “Big One” shook our vulnerable house built on sand. As we both have gone through physical affliction the past few years, we realize how much more difficult it’s going to get to take care of our home and continually walk up and down the two-flights of stairs.
Then this past year many of our friends are beginning to retire. Over the years, I cashed in two 401 K’s to pay for medical and dental expenses and to pay the bills during three separate job loses. Retirement for me was not going to happen any time soon.
Then our son-in-law Jason, half-jokingly suggested we move to Florida. He pastors a church in a town called Leesburg, about 40 miles north of Orlando…home of the happiest place on earth. He said the cost of living was much less than that of Washington, especially the housing.
So on a whim, Karen and I began to look on the internet for retirement communities in and around Leesburg. Our jaws dropped when we saw beautiful 1,500 square foot homes selling for $110 to $140,000. The 55 and over communities looked like vacation resorts sporting swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts and too many other amenities to mention here.
Wow!!!! There were more retirement communities in Florida than Starbucks stores in Seattle.
What began as a fun way to pass time soon became a spark igniting a flame of passion for the idea of moving to Florida. The passion grew every time we bundled up to take our Golden Retriever Molly for a walk in rain and 40 degree weather. But just as the dreary gloom of a winter in Washington can drain the life out of many, the thought of leaving our family, friends and the only town we’ve ever known would dampen our enthusiasm. It was especially hard to think about leaving my aging mother and our Daughter Jaymi, her husband Matt and their three kids who we are very close to.
Like a roller coaster, our emotions took us on a wild ride. I’ve heard it said that the hardest part about making a decision is indecision. Finally, Karen prayed that if we would put our house up for sale, we would know it was God’s will if it would sell in a week. From past experience, I figured it would take a miracle for her prayer to be answered. We called a real estate agent, put our home up for sale one morning and had six showings that day and had four offers the next morning.
Thank you God for your patience. We sold our home for $270,000…$101,000 more than what we previously had asked for it twice before. God knew to hold off the sale until the housing market was red hot in Western Washington.
I am writing this blog from a hotel room in Tallahassee, Florida. Karen and I are on our last pit stop before arriving in Leesburg, Florida tomorrow afternoon where we will be greeted by our oldest Daughter Katie, her husband Jason and their 5 children. It will be a bittersweet reunion because while we now will be able to enjoy the company of this family, we know the sadness of leaving other family members behind.
The journey leading up to today is worthy of a blog post all unto itself which I will write at a later time. Until then remember this: If God seems to be throwing a monkey wrench into some of your best laid out plans don’t get frustrated…He may just be saving you from a $100,000 mistake.